Soundtruck – the band itself sets the roof


A few days before the year is over we talked with Vassilis Panagopoulos, guitarist of Soundtruck, given the chance of their show at Kyttaro club on December 30th. Once more they have a new singer,  Panos Vitzilaios from PulseR, and that’s something we discuss first. We also talk about the pandemic, the Greek rock scene, their shows abroad and many more. We also found out that they are currently working on their next album, which we have to be patient until we listen to it, unless we go to the show, where they will be playing some new songs. Interview: Yiannis Dolas So, what’s the deal? Are you going to keep a lead singer, or what? Panos Vitzilaios looks like the ideal option; he’s got all the grain and the experience you guys need. How did you hook up with him and how is he responding to the task?

Vassilis Panagopoulos: I don’t think so, it’s fun to look for a singer every time… Well, Panos is a great guy first of all and that’s the most important thing. As a singer he suits perfectly to the band’s style and his voice matches what we want to do. I asked him to join us when Nikos (ed Melas) left, but the circumstances wouldn’t allow it back then. When Romanos left I met Panos again and asked him again, the time was right. He is responding to the band’s needs pretty well and he also has an amazing ability to write great melodies. The new songs, which are ready, have some amazing vocal lines and personally I couldn’t feel happier. Tell us a bit about the new album. What does it sound like and when are we going to listen to it?

Vassilis Panagopoulos: It’s on its way… the album is almost ready, it’s got 8 songs. We are finishing up the pre-production at the moment, there’s only a few things left to be done and we are very excited with the result so far. This album is probably the most “Soundtruck” album we’ve made. We wrote the songs with a clear head. We didn’t think about what the songs sound like, or if we should change a melody to make it more rock, less metal, or more southern. None of that. We wrote with our hearts and souls and for me that’s a bet we won.

As far as how the album is going to sound, I have to tell you this: there are a lot of blues elements, a lot of rock’n’roll, and there are a lot of songs that when you’ll listen you will say: “OK, that’s Soundtruck”! There are also a few songs that are more psychedelic… I think people are going to like this album. Time will tell. Let’s wait for its release first! We are currently stepping out of a period of lockdowns and the rest of the consequences applied by the pandemic. What was the thing you missed the most and how did you make the most of your free time while you were stuck at home?

Vassilis Panagopoulos: Well, those were times that I wish they never come back. What we missed was playing music, getting together and playing. It wasn’t the shows, the money, or anything. Just the five us getting in a room and playing. That was the most shocking thing. We surely didn’t make the best of that time for the band’s sake. Every one of us experienced this situation differently. Personally, I wasn’t up for anything. In situations like that music is the last thing you’d think of. You see things you’ve never even imagined, everything was shut down, you needed papers to get out of your house, the media was scaring people making everyone afraid of getting out, talking with other people, or even touching things. Those were situations taken from science fiction movies. I wish people recover from that, because I am sure that’s left a lot of baggage behind that will come out gradually. You recently played a few shows abroad on your “Truck On The Road” tour. How was that and what did you gain?

Vassilis Panagopoulos: It was an amazing experience and we really loved doing that. Unfortunately, some shows were canceled, due to some problems we faced, but luckily we managed to proceed to its second leg. We gained experience, new images and new friends. Either way those kind of experiences stay in your memory and contribute to your evolution. Plus, touring outside Greece gives you an idea about how things are abroad and increase your endurance and all of that becomes visible in your music. It’s been 10 years since you released your debut album. Do you feel wiser? Are there things that you wished you’d done differently on that album?

Vassilis Panagopoulos: It’s been exactly 10 years. We surely feel wiser, because we never stopped striving for the best and through that we learned a lot and I am sure there is more to be learned. I also think that those10 years made us more mature. Personally, I wouldn’t change a thing on that album. Back then it was just the five of us and we didn’t even know what to do when we finally got the album in our hands. We had a very sentimental approach on everything, we were all 100% in and we were lucky enough to present our first album when we opened for Lynyrd Skynyrd. What could you do differently? We haven’t even dreamed about that. The same goes with playing on the same festival as Motörhead’s guitarist, Phil Campbel, as it happened last September in Germany. In general, I don’t like looking back and say that I would have done things differently. You do everything based on your experience at the time given. Nowadays, there is a turn to a more classic rock sound. Would you say that now Soundtruck have an even better opportunity to promote their music, comparing to 5 years ago?

Vassilis Panagopoulos: That’s true, the ground is more fertile now. Like you said, I remember 5 or 6 years ago when there was an obsession with stoner rock and all its branches and classic rock was left out of this. On the other hand, that was a good thing, because that explosion attracted new fans and opened a lot of doors for new bands. I think that the music we write addresses to a broad audience, a lot of different people can listen to it and that’s a great thing. Anyone who is into heavy metal, blues, and even progressive rock can dig it. What would you say is the “roof” for a Greek rock band in Greece and abroad? Should Greek bands aim at the success that Planet Of Zeus and 1000 Mods have? How hard is it to tour abroad?

Vassilis Panagopoulos: There is no roof. The band itself sets the roof. In my opinion the goal of ay band should be how to become more recognizable and attract more and more people to its shows, play as much as possible to festivals in Greece and beyond and reach the point to live off music. A band has a load of expenses. Of course, the success of Planet Of Zeus, or 1000 Mods should be the example for all upcoming bands. They didn’t achieve all that by accident. They had to fight a lot, sweat a lot, they got a lot of shit too and they traveled for miles and miles. They didn’t make all that sitting on their sofa.

If you want to become recognizable beyond the limits of your country you need to be persistent, patient and not to get bored easily. There is no magic pill, or a trick that one of your mates can tell you about. I’d really love for something like that to exist, but unfortunately it doesn’t. it’s very hard to go abroad to play, it needs a lot of research, money as well as endurance and the will to say: “I am going on the road, facing everything that comes against me, giving it all on stage every single night”… From time to time we’ve seen rock bands competing on TV talent shows. Would you consider doing that?

Vassilis Panagopoulos: That’s bullshit! What are you supposed to do on a talent show? Play your music so any shitty TV person can judge you? No way. Those who did it, they know why they did it. I wouldn’t do it. A rock band’s music is judged by the audience and time. Being a part of a TV show is an attempt to win some time. That’s not going to happen. You think that going there and being on TV will make you shot hot and the next day you’re going to play in a sold out arena. Then, you wake up and face reality. In a few days 2022 will be over and we will be welcoming 2023, what did you think stands out this year (musically, socially, and politically) and what do you expect for next year?

Vassilis Panagopoulos: Another year passed. I don’t think there was something that stands out this year. In my opinion, Greece is facing its most difficult times ever. The worst thing is that we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. You are living in a place where everybody is controlled. Human life doesn’t mean a thing and some people dance on other people’s graves, while they are trying to convince us that everything is going great. Everything has turned into an endless display of lifestyle. People live behind a screen, watch concerts behind a screen, falls in love behind a screen and the only thing that we haven’t seen yet is… people fucking behind a screen. Society goes through an unbelievable stress that will not turn out good.

The only positive thing I see and I am really touched is through that stressed situation comes some reaction and that’s new bands that via their music they make their presence felt and wake people up! So, what should we expect from Soundtruck on December 30th?

Vassilis Panagopoulos: On December 30th Soundtruck are throwing a huge party at Kyttaro club. We will play songs from both of our albums, as well as the new one. We will dance, drink beers, have a good time, check out our friends Ninkasi, a great new band and we will leave everything behind for three hours. The point is to have a good time after all!